February 05, 2016 — Blog Post
How one healthcare organization improved its blood pressure control rate
Every February, the American Heart Association’s Heart Month and campaigns around heart health draw a lot of attention to hypertension. But for healthcare organizations, it’s top of mind all the time. The CDC estimates that 1 in 3 U.S. adults has hypertension; and total costs associated with it annually are about $46 billion.
Helping people control hypertension can improve clinical outcomes and lower costs; but it’s easier said than done. People have to take on a number of tasks like taking medication, frequent visits to clinicians, as well as diet and lifestyle changes. These tasks are even more difficult for people with limited health literacy and may hinder them from taking appropriate actions.
We know from research that a combination of animation and voiceover is especially helpful for engaging people with low health literacy. When these kinds of multimedia programs use conversational language to walk people through the what, why and how can have a marked effect on how well people understand their health condition and their ability to act. This is especially important with silent conditions like hypertension that don’t cause pain or other problems that might otherwise motivate people to take action or make difficult changes to their daily habits.
For example, telling people that exercise and weight loss can help lower their BP may or may not be news. But letting them know that even a little exercise, like raking leaves or taking the stairs, can help lower their blood pressure may be surprising to them, which is why we include that information in our program (see a screenshot to the right). And especially for people who are very overweight, finding out that just dropping 10 pounds can help lower BP is good news. And that even if they don’t lose weight right away, any exercise usually helps to lower hypertension. These messages were all woven into Emmi’s hypertension program to help people see they can start small and still have a real impact. It’s less daunting to try start making changes.
Unfortunately, most providers have too many competing priorities and just don’t have time for these conversations. And the reality is, the clinic is not even the best place to take in this information, since most of us forget about 80% of what we’re told by the time we walk out to the parking lot.
So when Centura Health, a large network in Colorado and Western Kansas, needed a way to reach its members with hypertension to help them control it and self-manage, they recognized they needed to give people a better understanding of their condition so they could buy into the “why” and “how” behind managing their BP. Centura sent Emmi’s hypertension program to 6,509 patients with varying levels of blood pressure control. After 6 months, the impact of program viewership relative to blood pressure control was measured.
The results? Patients who viewed the Emmi program were more likely to have controlled blood pressure. And, significant improvements were reported regardless of peoples’ initial blood pressure control status. This was both a scalable and efficient way to reach a large population and show meaningful results.
- Population health is critical for healthcare organizations to succeed, and for patients with hypertension make up a large population for many healthcare organizations.
- Engaging these patients in taking the steps they need to take to manage their condition isn’t easy, but improved communication can help.
- Emmi multimedia programs are designed for all learning styles and with simple, engaging content that explain the what, why and how behind hypertension management.
- Patients who viewed Emmi’s hypertension program were more likely to have controlled blood pressure.